Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: The secrets of the cuttlefish / The nine lives of ‘Cat Person’ / Giving up caffeine / Explaining Jerry Seinfeld’s success / Replacing Reagan with Trump in Texas

This week: The secrets of the cuttlefish / The nine lives of ‘Cat Person’ / Giving up caffeine / Explaining Jerry Seinfeld’s success / Replacing Reagan with Trump in Texas

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism. Learn more about my academic background here.

1. Did a cuttlefish write this?
By Veronique Greenwood | The New Tork Times | July 2021
“Octopuses and squid are full of cephalopod character. But more scientists are making the case that cuttlefish hold the key to unlocking evolutionary secrets about intelligence.”

2. Gender neutral passports are coming, but not everyone will choose an ‘X’
By Kate Sosin | The 19th | July 2021
“Many fear the third gender option could invite harassment, discrimination, and even violence while traveling.”

3. ‘Cat Person’ and Me
By Alexis Nowicki | Slate | July 2021
“Kristen Roupenian’s viral story draws specific details from my own life. I’ve spent the years since it published wondering: How did she know?”
Also see: The ‘Cat Person’ debate shows how fiction writers use real life does matter

4. The invisible addiction: Is it time to give up caffeine?
By Michael Pollan | The Guardian | July 2021
“Caffeine makes us more energetic, efficient and faster. But we have become so dependent that we need it just to get to our baseline”

5. Why Is Jerry Seinfeld One of the Most Successful Stand-Up Comedians of All Time?
By David Steinberg | LitHub | July 2021
“Young comics who think they’re going to be like Seinfeld don’t realize the years he’s put into it. He’s like the virtuoso cellist Pablo Casals—he doesn’t stop practicing, he doesn’t stop trying new things.”

6. Why the guillotine may be less cruel than execution by slow poisoning
By Janine Lanza | The World | October 2019
“From the stake to the rope to the firing squad to the electric chair to the gas chamber and, finally, to the lethal injection, over the centuries the methods of execution in the United States have evolved to make execution quicker, quieter and less painful, both physically and psychologically.”

7. Killing Reagan: How American Conservatives Replaced Their Heroes With Trump
By Christopher Hooks | Texas Monthly | July 2021
“At a conservative gathering in Texas, two Florida Men are the winners, while the movement itself seems adrift.”

8. The Movies Are Back. But What Are Movies Now?
By A.O. Scott | The New York Times | July 2021
“Cinephiles and streaming fans can both claim victory. But as we better understand the new screen culture taking shape, it looks like we may all lose in the long run.”

9. Rolling Thunder Revue: American Multitudes
By Dana Spiotta | The Criterion Collection | January 2021
“Scorsese’s documentary about Dylan’s origins and 1965 turn from acoustic to electric music, the director curates the archival footage to make an argument about how the tensions of the American cultural moment are a crucial part of the story of Bob Dylan.”

10. Venus
By Melvyn Bragg | In Our Time :: BBC 4 | 2013-2018
Also see: The Eye | The Microscope | The Invention of Radio | Prophecy

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Earhart’s freckle cream found / American cannibalism / A new mass extinction? / Watch the Venus transit / iPhone 5 rumors

Most of these great items come from my Twitter feed or Facebook news feed. Follow me on Twitter and on Facebook for more fascinating videos, articles, essays and criticism.

1. Native Lands Wash Away as Sea Levels Rise
By Saskia De Melker | PBS Newshour | June 1
“In the last 100 years, Louisiana has lost 1,900 square miles of coast. That means a swath of land the size of Manhattan has been lost on average each year.”

2. Amelia Earhart’s Freckle Cream Discovered On South Pacific Island Sheds Light On Mysterious Disappearance
By Tara Kelly | The Huffington Post | June 1
“[H]istorians say the jar could provide further evidence to support the theory that Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan may have landed the plane and survived as castaways on the uninhabited island of Nikumaroro in the republic of Kiribati.”

3. A Brief History of Cannibalism in America
By Victoria Bekiempis | The Village Voice | June 1
“Since there have been a lot of cannibalism/anthropophagy-esque cases in a few days, a lot of people have started to wonder: Does this mean the world is ending?”

4. Are We in the Midst of a Sixth Mass Extinction?
Sunday Review :: The New York Times | June 1
A special multimedia report explores how the status of threatened species may signal a larger danger.

5. The Rare Transit of Venus
Associated Press | May 2012
“Try not to miss it — the transit of Venus will not be seen again until 2117.”

6. Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Drones
By Cora Currier | ProPublica | May 31
“Everyone is talking about drones. Also known as Unmanned Arial Vehicles, or UAVs, remote-piloted aircrafts have become a controversial centerpiece of the Obama administration’s counter-terrorism strategy. ”

7. The Rise and Fall of Rick Perry’s Presidential Campaign
The Texas Tribune | Jan. 19, 2012
The special multimedia package won a 2012 Data Journalism Award.

8. The history of the 1990s, revised
By Steve Kornacki | Salon | May 31
“Imagine if conservatives had been this excited about Bill Clinton’s presidency when Bill Clinton was president”

9. iPhone 5 rumor roundup
By Kent German and Lynn La | CNET | May 29
“CNET tracks all the iPhone 5 rumors — from the likely to the crazy — that we’ve heard so far in 2011 and 2012.”

10. Runoff Strategy Depends on Race and Money, Analysts Say
By Julian Aguilar | The Texas Tribune | May 31
“As the dust settles after Texas’ primary election, candidates who couldn’t manage to break the 50 percent threshold are left with two more months of campaigning to try to get to the general election.”

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TUNES

My soundtrack for today included:
1. YOU ARE WE AM I (Blue mix) TJ Rehmi
2. NUMERO DEUX The Dining Rooms
3. DON’T STOP Blank, Jones & Claudia Brücken
4. WALK AND TALK LIKE ANGELS Toni Child
5. OOH LA LA Goldfrapp
6. FEAR OF FLYING Bowery Electric
7. JUSTIFY MY LOVE Madonna
8. I TOUCH MYSELF Divinyls
9. LITTLE RED CORVETTE Prince
10. KISS YOU ALL OVER Exile

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Stay-at-home moms / Invisible octopuses / The rare transit of Venus / The damage from Texas textbooks / Departures of Kristen Wiig and Peggy Olson

Most of these great items come from my Twitter feed or Facebook news feed. Follow me on Twitter and on Facebook for more fascinating videos, articles, essays and criticism.

1. How Texas Inflicts Bad Textbooks on Us
By Gail Collins | The New York Review of Books | June 2012
“Ever since the 1960s, the selection of schoolbooks in Texas has been a target for the religious right, which worried that schoolchildren were being indoctrinated in godless secularism, and political conservatives who felt that their kids were being given way too much propaganda about the positive aspects of the federal government.”

2. Stay-at-Home Moms Report More Sadness, Anger and Depression than Working Moms
By Bonnie Rochman | Family Matters :: Time | June 1
“Gallup.com found that working mothers report greater well-being than stay-at-home moms. Is a job the ticket to bliss?”

3. How Octopuses Make Themselves Invisible
By Katherine Harmon | Octopus Chronicles :: Scientific American | June 1
“Do they survey the whole area in their proximity and incorporate the general hues and patterns into their skin display, or do they pick out just a few nearby landmarks for a more precise match?”

4. Tuesday is last chance to see transit of Venus
By Elizabeth Weise | USA Today | May 31
“It happens only four times every 243 years. If you want to see the famed transit of Venus, next Tuesday is your last chance this century.”

5. A Study in Farewells: Kristen Wiig and Peggy Olson
By Sasha Weiss | Culture Desk :: The New Yorker | June 1
“What a relief — and what a brilliant coincidence — that the gods of TV charted a course this week from Peggy’s quiet triumph to Wiig’s loud one, and one we can all share in.”

6. Christina Hendricks on Joan’s Epic Moral Moment
By Gwynne Watkins | The Stream :: GQ | May 30
“The emotionally wrenching episode was the best so far this season, and a tour de force for actress Christina Hendricks (whose hourglass beauty gets more press than her considerable acting chops).”

7. Issues for His Prose Style
By Andrew O’Hagan | London Review of Books | June 2012
“[Ernest Hemingway] never takes nouns for granted. He invests his whole personality in them, because nouns are the part of speech where a person gets to show off.”

8. NASA to future moon explorers: Don’t ruin our Apollo landing sites
By Larry McShane | The New York Daily News | May 29
“Space agency issues guidelines to help other lunar missions to protect historic remains”

9. Are literary classics obsolete?
By Laura Miller | Salon | May 30
“A new study says today’s writers are influenced by authors of the present, not the past”

10. The ‘Muslim Schindler’
By Mehdi Hasan | The New Statesman | May 23
“A lawyer by training, he used his negotiating skills to try to persuade the Nazis’ experts on racial purity that the 150 or so Iranian Jews living in the city in 1940 were assimilated to non-Jewish — and ‘Aryan’ — Persians through history, culture and intermarriage.”

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TUNES

My soundtrack for today included:
1. WHY TRY TO CHANGE ME NOW Fiona Apple
2. SLOWLY Max Sedgley
3. SAIL AWAY David Gray
4. WHY Annie Lennox
5. WAS LOVE Captain Ahab
6. SMALL OF MY HEART Madison Violet
7. HEAVEN’S GONNA BURN YOUR EYES Thievery Corporation
8. TA DOULEUR (Your Pain) Camille
9. MEET YOUR NEW LOVE Atlantic/Pacific
10. ANGEL OF SOLITUDE Alias